The Gospel's defenders aren't driven by historical curiosity, that much is certain. As I showed yesterday, the issue of "what really happened" vanishes when there's a faster solution. But is it only speed and efficiency? Is it only to make the most indomitable defense of inerrancy? Or is it my latest theory - because Revelation says not to "add to" or "take away from" the words of "this book"?
Evangelical defense of the scriptures certainly does take square aim against those who try to "take away from" the Gospels. I'm starting to think anti-chronological dogmas (that refuse to even play out the historical possibilities, much less consider whether Gospel events "really happened") may be, on some level, nothing more than a fear of "adding to" what the Gospels tell us.
If that's part of the thinking, I'll admit it's a valid concern. We don't want people taking what scripture says and building it up into complex reconstructions of something that scripture does not strictly say, and then treating their work with the same reverence as scripture itself. No, we really don't. Man, that sure would be awful. Oh, wait. Isn't that what Theology does? Pretty much. So if that's okay, why isn't History?
My theory: because speculative, interpretative arguments are easier to defend, to control, and to get mileage from when they apply to abstract philosophy. Theology also happens to provide the political bedrock and boundaries of institutional christendom. Naturally, the same political process, applied to History, results in less than 100% "provable" results. TPTB can't have that. TPTB must be able to say they Know Truth. But in their ostensible efforts to extinguish doubt, they imply that some parts of the Gospels could well be purely fictitious. Oh, but non-contradictory! Oh, well, swell.
I continue to come back to one thought - that political needs are driving anti-historicism among evangelicals.
I keep hoping I'm wrong, but I don't know what else it could be. It's anti-academic. It's anti-faith. It's intellectually dishonest. It may not even be conscious. The propaganda machine for "historical reliability" has done such an incredibly great job squelching hope in chronological reconstruction, most believers buy into this totally.
Historical reconstruction of the Gospels' events simply doesn't work for their agenda. But that doesn't mean it doesn't work at all.